Postcards to the President
Messages from citizens around the world
You are here:
Business & Finance
The Great Debate
Do More With Reuters
You Witness News
Make Reuters My Homepage
Support (Customer Zone)
About Thomson Reuters
U.S. probes cable pricing ahead of switch to digital
Wed Nov 5, 2008 5:21pm EST
Email | Print |
| Reprints | Single Page
By Kim Dixon
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Federal regulators have launched a probe into whether cable companies are raising prices as consumers prepare to switch to digital television.
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission said on Wednesday it sent letters to 12 companies after receiving complaints that some are ratcheting up prices for programing packages or requiring customers to buy digital set-top boxes for fewer channels, ahead of the change.
Television broadcast signals will switch to digital from analog on February 17 under a congressionally-mandated order to free up airwaves for emergency and other uses.
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and consumer groups have long complained about rising cable prices, especially when rates for other technologies, such as cellphones, have fallen.
Now, critics say cable companies may be using the digital switch as an excuse to reset rates for packages.
"We are asking why some companies have taken steps to require customers to pay higher cable prices after the digital switch for the same channels that they received through analog signals previously," Martin told reporters on Tuesday on the sidelines of an FCC meeting on unrelated matters.
Prices for cable television nearly doubled in the decade ended in 2005, according to the FCC.
An industry spokesman said cable companies are moving their options to digital as part of the transition, which necessitates different channels and packages, and requires a set-top box.
Brian Dietz, a spokesman for the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, called the FCC inquiries "perplexing."
"The Bureau's actions are clearly contrary to the FCC's own policies encouraging the roll-out of new digital services," he said.
Specifically, the FCC is questioning whether companies are moving certain analog channels to digital only, putting them out of reach of customers who do not obtain a company-supplied set top box.
Last month, Consumers Union wrote to lawmakers questioning whether Comcast Corp and other cable companies were fueling growth by "reaching into the pockets of their subscribers."
The consumer group cited Comcast's 38 percent growth in third-quarter profits and rising prices.
The FCC letters went to Comcast, Time Warner Cable Inc, Bend Cable Communications, Brighthouse Networks, Cablevision Systems Corp, Charter Communications Inc, Cox Communications Inc, GCI Co, Harron Entertainment Co, RCN Corp and Suddenlink Communications.
Verizon Communications Inc, a telephone company that provides services that compete with cable TV, also received a letter. Continued...
View article on single page
Gates urges rich countries not to cut health aid
Also on Reuters
Analysis: Even with mandate, Obama faces health care pain
Analysis: Why John McCain lost the White House
Analysis: Obama faces daunting wartime transition
A selection of our best photos from the past 24 hours. Slideshow
Top News: Obama takes aim at the Greenspan era
Politics: Big foreign policy challenges await Obama
US: Black Americans celebrate Obama's victory
Most Popular on Reuters
World leaders' quotes on Obama election win
Obama aims for smooth transition | Video
Iran warns U.S. military after Obama win | Video
Four Senate races still undecided
Americans joyous, worried after Obama victory
Israel-Hamas violence disrupts Gaza truce | Video
California stops gay marriage amid Obama victory
Al Franken falls short in Senate bid
Democrats expand majorities in Congress | Video
ANALYSIS-Obama victory signals shift in US race relations
Most Popular Articles RSS Feed
Obama wins U.S presidency
Obama, Biden take the stage
Winslet's revealing photo spread
Barack Obama Elected President
US media projects Obama victory
New Yorkers cheer
Obama supporters gather in Harlem
Obama Wins Ohio
Obama poised to win White House
Most Popular Videos RSS Feed
The global destination for corporate leaders, deal-makers and innovators
Knowledge to Act
Help and Contact Us |
Advertise With Us |
Interactive TV |
Reuters in Second Life |
Site Index |
Thomson Reuters Corporate:
Professional Products |
Professional Products Support |
About Thomson Reuters |
Latin America |
United Kingdom |
Thomson Reuters is the world's largest international multimedia news agency, providing investing news, world news, business news, technology news, headline news, small business news, news alerts, personal finance, stock market, and mutual funds information available on Reuters.com, video, mobile, and interactive television platforms. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.
NYSE and AMEX quotes delayed by at least 20 minutes. Nasdaq delayed by at least 15 minutes. For a complete list of exchanges and delays, please click here.